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I'm sorry, I gotta say it: Thank God the holidays are over. They just seem to go on and on. Perhaps because for me, because business is so holiday-driven and I spend 3 whole months preparing, from September onward, working on holiday products, I feel positively beaten up by Halloween and Christmas. By mid December, I'm truly exhausted with holiday themes and by the second half of December I'm burned out on Christmas themes and want quiet time. So I am glad to have taken down the tree and ornaments and be done with holiday products and look forward to . . . being finished with Valentine's Day products?


I feel so badly for the people of Iraq. It's heartbreaking. It's horrifying. It's beyond nightmarish. I can't stop thinking about what life must be like for the people of Baghdad. And for the U.S. troops in Iraq. But I feel not a particle of sympathy for American politicians. And I'm not very keen on vast swaths of the American public who seem to take no responsibility at all for the invasion which destabilized the entire region - exactly as so many warned it would. Baghdad burns, Americans shop.

The competing television news images on the morning after Thanksgiving were of the unspeakable carnage in Sadr City — where more than 200 Iraqi civilians were killed by a series of coordinated car bombs — and the long lines of cars filled with holiday shopping zealots that jammed the highway approaches to American malls that had opened for business at midnight. . . .There is something terribly wrong with this juxtaposition of gleeful Americans with fistfuls of dollars storming the department store barricades and the slaughter by the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including old people, children and babies. The war was started by the U.S., but most Americans feel absolutely no sense of personal responsibility for it. Bob Herbert, N.Y. Times, 11-17-2006.

This isn't right. This degree of psychological dissociation in American just isn't right. More than that, it really frightens me because there will eventually be a price to pay for this party-on-dude attitude of imperviousness to the suffering of others and the part we play in it. We are teaching the world that we really are just a bunch of decadent, heartless adolescents who deserve to be taught a lesson, that we are The Thoughtlessly Priveleged Ones who can export conflict and watch rage fall on other people's children while we discuss the precise meaning of "civil war" on our nightly news so that our politicians can cover their semantic asses.

There is NO ONE in my personal aquaintance who talks openly about the meaning of this war and the impact on the lives of the Iraqi people or the American service people. Why is that?

I understand the value of cultivating one's own garden. I consider happiness a virtue to cultivate. I don't believe that I should stop maintaining my own life simply because much of the world is in anguish. But I also think I should give frequent thought to what we have done by invading and destabilizing this poor country that was barely hanging onto its slim grip on civil life - arrogantly pretending that we could force our plan down it's throat, when we clearly did not have a remotely competent plan to help these people. And now these people are in torment. And we shop on. It's not right.


Waaaay better than Chihuahua photos! This is the website devoted to our grandson, and lovingly blogged by our daughter-in-law, Heather: Zion Michael Denali.

Pretty darned good lookin', whaddya think? 2 1/2 years old. Check out the videos on his website. We are able to see him in real time thanks to videoconferencing arranged by his dad and grandfather, who are real smart computer geeks.


This is our new adoptee, Paco:

This is one of his baby pictures. He's actually 2 years old, but he's even cuter now. Six pounds. He's like a little circus dog, he has lots of adorable tricks. I swear, I'm the luckiest woman in the universe. We adopted him from a couple who can no longer take care of him because they are gone all day and had to keep him confined in their kitchen all day long. He is a precious, gentle, affectionate and energetic little guy who took over our household and all three of our dogs fell in love with him instantly. The racing and playing around our yard and house began immediately and room was made in our bed and on our couch. He's soooooo smart and sweet. His former dogmother was sad to let him go but she did the right thing because it's torture for these little dogs to be left alone and confined like that. They pretty much go crazy from confinement and loneliness. But she did a great job raising him because he has a very outgoing, engaging nature and has quickly become housebroken. He's beautifully leash trained. What a character! Totally unafraid, he wrestles with my Shepweiler, Xena, like Hulk Hogan. Xena (100 pounds) puts her entire mouth around him when she's playing with him, to grab him, but very gently, like a mother dog picks up puppies, and Paco just twists around and grabs her cheeks with his tiny mouth, and flips out of her grasp and runs around behind to hip at her heels . . .it's a scream to watch them play. They LOVED each other at first sight. And Paco and my older Chihuahua, Jolie, also toussle in 3 or 4 long episodes every day, running up and down the hallways, racing in figure eights around the grass. For some reason this wasn't happening a lot before Paco came. He's some kind of canine catalyst.

I soooo recommend taking in adoptees instead of buying puppies from pet stores. There are so many adult dogs that need homes. I found Paco from my online connections with Chihuahua Meet-Up, which is how I found my precious Charlie Chihuahua who was rescued from a dog shelter by ChihRescueOrg.

And might I add that a single hair from one of these dogs is worth a dozen jackass warmongering, lying, cheating politician? Literally, dogs have more value by far. They are more honest, true and valuable in the universe. As I sit on my couch, with a warm Chihuahua leaning against my neck, one tucked under my arm, another with her sleek head laying against my hip, and my big loyal Shepweiler's head on my thigh, a good book on my lap, a warm fire in the fireplace, as the rain falls outside my big picture window, a nice cup of hot coffee on the table beside me, I think about the venal powermad assholes who make a mockery of all we value and preach "family values" while voting to send a million cluster bombs to Israel to rain down on children in Lebanon and then I think of vain, wealthy evangelical Christian preachers taking time off from attacking same sex marriage to sneak out to get "massages" from their boyfriends . . .and I think about the surpassing value of a little dog.


I should have known Tom Friedman would say it better than I could. It's not that Kerry thinks the American military troops are ignorant or stupid, it is that George Bush and Dick Cheney think we are stupid. . .

They think that they can get you to overlook all of the Bush team’s real and deadly insults to the U.S. military over the past six years by hyping and exaggerating Mr. Kerry’s mangled gibe at the president. . . .

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men — to launch an invasion of a foreign country not by the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force, but by the Rumsfeld Doctrine of just enough troops to lose? What could be a bigger insult than that?

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment, so that some soldiers in the field were left to buy their own body armor and to retrofit their own jeeps with scrap metal so that roadside bombs in Iraq would only maim them for life and not kill them? And what could be more injurious and insulting than Don Rumsfeld’s response to criticism that he sent our troops off in haste and unprepared: Hey, you go to war with the army you’ve got — get over it.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there, so that the U.S. military has had to assume not only security responsibilities for all of Iraq but the political rebuilding as well? The Bush team has created a veritable library of military histories — from “Cobra II” to “Fiasco” to “State of Denial” — all of which contain the same damning conclusion offered by the very soldiers and officers who fought this war: This administration never had a plan for the morning after, and we’ve been making it up — and paying the price — ever since. (Tom Friedman, N.Y. Times, November 3, 2006)




I realize that Kerry committed a political/diplomatic gaffe yesterday, but really he was telling the truth - not about the American military men but about the history-ignorant politicans who sent them to Iraq. It's clear to everybody that Kerry was referring to Bush and not maligning the soldiers themselves, who were sent off to Iraq with no postwar plans and inadequate resources for half baked policies. And it's also clear the neoconservatives who designed and sold the Iraq War did not study Middle Eastern history, did not know their enemy, did not do their homework in preparation for a major military effort, and hence did make endless errors in strategy and tactics which have cost the American and the Iraqi people vastly in blood and money.

Kerry might have phrased things more adroitly, but he is absolutely right that the ignorance and stupidity of the Bush administration is the underlying issue of the Iraq disaster. This has nothing whatsoever to do with *supporting* or *respecting* the U.S. serviceman. What a shameful thing to say that criticizing specific political policies is unsupportive to "the troops". Sending men and women into unnecessary bloody wars is not "supporting" them. How ridiculously ironic this all is.

David Brooks made some great points in his editorial in the New York Times this morning, in which he refers to the the history of British occupation of Iraq 80 years ago, which virtually prefigures our present-day experience of sectarian violence today. But it is no big surprise to anybody who has studied the history of the region.

The British tried to encourage responsible Iraqi self-government, to no avail. “The political ambitions of the Shia religious headquarters have always lain in the direction of theocratic domination,” a British official reported in 1923. They “have no motive for refraining from sacrificing the interests of Iraq to those which they conceive to be their own.”

At one point, the British high commissioner, Sir Henry Dobbs, argued that if Britain threatened to withdraw its troops, Iraqis would behave more responsibly. It didn’t work. Iraqis figured the Brits were bugging out. They concluded it was profitless to cultivate British friendship. Everything the British said became irrelevant. (David Brooks, New York Times, November 2, 2006)

Brooks' editorial underscores the point that all those Yale and Harvard degrees floating around in Washington don't make our politicians any wiser if they refuse to think beyond their fondest power dreams and ideological fantasies. These highly educated people in power were the ones who told us Iraq would be a cake walk and our troops would be greeted with flowers and sweets (Cheney). That "stuff happens" Rumsfeld is the guy who thought we didn't have to sweat postwar security. He's THE guy who should have studied Middle East history before sending troops into the streets of Baghdad. He's a more reasonable reference point for Kerry's ackward joke about people who should have done their homework than GI Joe is. But then, Tony Snow and everybody else in the Bush administration knows that.

They know who Kerry was referring to. They know who should have been smarter. We all do. I just wish Kerry had been more adept in making his excellent point about how our leaders coulda shoulda been smarter.


I recently finished "State of Denial" and although it started out as "duty reading" (see below), I ended up admiring it as one of the best things Bob Woodward has done since "All The President's Men".

Among the things to which his journalistic style lends itself very well is explicating the miscommunication between multiple chains of command which made a unified, purposeful policy impossible for the Bush administration. I have been brainboggled at times wondering how Bush could be so disconnected from reality - how he and Rumsfeld could possibly continue claiming there were enough troops in Iraq to get the job done when so much evidence existed that there were not enough boots on the ground to provide adequate security to establish the democracy which was supposedly the objective of the invasion in the first place? (for the moment I will allow that fiction to just lay there). Woodward's conversation-by-conversation reportage actually explained quite well how the reality-based messages from the military simply never connected with the "decider" at the top. "State of Denial" turned out to be a great journalistic expose of failures of governance due to simple characterological flaws elevated to tragic proportions that leave you with your mouth hanging open. Woodward's mouth was hanging open at times, by his own report, as he sometimes listened to men in the highest positions of power bespeak themselves in terms of blatant self contradiction without any apparent awareness.

In sum, this book gives us a peak at how a tiny number of people can stumble along in a condition of multiple glaringly apparent contradictions and still manage to work themself into a position in which they, essentially, control - unchallenged - the lives of millions of people and dispose of trillions of dollars. At the end of this book one is reduced to the simples terms of concern: "YIKES!"




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